Trying to Balance Full Time Work and Full Time Child Care
When you are a full-time work-from-home mom, it can take a lot of give and take to balance your work responsibilities with caring for children at home.
You wake up every day with a plan of how things are going to be, and what you are going to do. Then, by 9am, that plan has gone out the window.
Kids wake up earlier than anticipated and their needs become the priority, instead of getting work done. You have to refocus mentally and put all your well-laid plans aside.
Does this sound familiar?
When this happens it can be easy to get irritated with the kids, then irritated with yourself for being irritated. This is when it is time to take a deep breath and refocus your energy.
Give yourself grace
When you get irritated that things don't go the way that you wanted them to, it can be easy to start feeling guilty that you are irritated. Take a moment and focus on where you feel those feelings in your body. Breathe deeply into that space. Then, refocus your energy on what needs to be done.
When you have kids, there is rarely a day that goes perfectly to plan.
Learn to expect and anticipate challenges. Plan ahead for what you will do if there are interruptions during your work day.
Be gentle with yourself, and realize that no matter how hard you work, or how hard you try, you can't possibly plan for every possible contingency. And that's ok.
Realize that mistakes, both yours and the kids, aren't the end of the world.
Look at your schedule
Perhaps the way you are scheduling your time isn't working. If you block out time during your kids naps, maybe their nap schedule has shifted. Perhaps you need to shift your own schedule to reflect the change.
Schedule work activities when you have help with the kids.
If your partner works outside the home, look for time to schedule your work when your partner can be with the kids. This can alleviate a lot of the stress of trying to find an activity to absorb them before you can sit down with your work. This also helps to limit interruptions.
Having a dedicated work space that is quiet can also help you to get more work done, whenever you are working.
Also, knowing that you have time blocked out for yourself later in the day will allow you to have more patience, and to be more present during the day when you are spending time with the kids.
Your mind won't be wandering to the emails that you need to send, phone calls to be returned, or other tasks that need to be done.
Also, I have noticed that if I do something fun outside with my daughter, she will relax and play by herself later in the day.
Personally, I have a tendency to want to get my work done first thing, but the more active that she is during the day sometimes that isn't possible. So I need to adjust and find ways to devote more time to her up front, so that I can get things done later.
Learning to be present
It is hard to be present with your kids, if your mind is elsewhere. This is why it is important to take the few minutes to center and refocus from your work to your kids, when they need something. Set aside your mental to-do list and come back to it later.
The more present you are with your kids when you are doing an activity with them, the more fulfilling it will be for both of you.
Kids have a way of sensing when we aren't fully present with them. This makes them try harder and harder to get our full attention, which at times can mean that they will get persistently more needy and annoying with their demands.
Had we just paid attention in the first place, their attention seeking behaviors would have gotten less out of hand.
Kids really do seek attention and connection with us. As parents, we fulfill their needs for love and safety, which are basic needs that everyone has.
When kids are home with us all day, then we are the primary people responsible for fulfilling their need for connection. We need to let them know that they are loved, safe and well cared for.
It is when we aren't meeting our children's most basic needs that they start acting out. And I am not talking just about their physical needs, like to be fed and clothed. I am talking about their emotional needs as well.
When kids emotional needs are met on a daily basis, their behavior is likely to be much more calm, and they are likely to do what we ask much more quickly.
If we want our kids to meet our needs and to do what we ask the first time, then we must first meet their needs. This way, the parent - child relationship has reciprocity. It is our job as caretakers to meet their needs first, before expecting them to meet ours. We are the adults, and as such, we need to learn to be more patient with our kids.
It is our responsibility to put our kids needs first, no matter what else may be going on during the day.
When our day doesn't go to plan, it is important to give ourselves grace, reorganize our schedules, and take the time to be present with our kids.
Our work can wait. Much that it doesn't seem that way sometimes. But if you are working from home with your kids, it is important to structure your workday so that you can be meeting the needs of your kids first.
Remember why you decided to work from home in the first place. Likely, it was to be able to have more time with our kids. We have prioritized them by staying home, but being home isn't enough in itself. We also need to be mentally present.
When you take the time to be present with your kids first, you will be better able to focus on your work later on without so many interruptions. This is because when kids' needs for connection are met, they are likely to be better behaved and to listen better to our instructions.
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